Returning from the Singapore Yacht Show earlier this month, Patrick Yeoward of Brookes Bell Superyacht Division gives a view on the status of the Asian market, noting important cultural differences and the need for careful growth management.
There was a very definite diversification from the standard ‘western’ idea of the yacht industry being put forward at the Singapore Yacht Forum. While the term 'superyacht' applies to vessels over 24m, increasingly we think of larger vessels above 50m. In Hong Kong there is a limit of 30m for berth size and there are many examples of owners building a yacht to the size of the berth they can find – which are becoming rare.
When the superyacht market was a fledgling industry smaller vessels dominated the market, but things have changed dramatically in a very short time and there is no reason why the Asian market should not do the same.
However, the ability to venture further afield, enjoy unique experiences in corners of the world only accessible by sea, to go below the waves and see another world, cannot be fully appreciated until they are experienced firsthand. The challenge is to persuade a new market to dip its toe in the water, quite literally.
In most Asian nations the sea is viewed as a supplier of food and a route on which to trade. The idea of using it for recreation was, until very recently, as foreign as Marmite. This is changing, but while the Asian yacht market shows signs of maturing, it requires an understanding of the cultural differences in terms of what a yacht is for and how it is used.
Stories abound of families using yachts as day boats, hopping between marinas and resort, and facilities are being built or planned with this in mind. However, this could actually hinder growth by restricting the availability of space for larger yachts.
Meanwhile, in minds of many is the draw of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and the Americas Cup in Auckland in 2021. Mr Inaba of Superyacht Logistics of Japan spoke of the huge opportunity these create to showcase Japan and the many other islands in the Pacific and South East Asia. Government bodies are being informed – in simple dollar terms – of the need to change the bureaucracy around superyachts to encourage more vessels to visit the region. Mr Inaba is working tirelessly to reduce paperwork, lengthen import and visa times, remove the need for yachts to report to each port along a cruise and to permit changes to predefined routes.
At the same time we must not overlook differences in culture. Superyachts arriving in remote areas always attract attention and interest but, as an industry, we must listen and adapt to local traditions and supply what is wanted rather than what fits with our own experience and ideas. Growth will come if this emerging market is handled with care and respect.
For further information, please contact Patrick Yeoward
Tel: +44 7384 517 639 or +34 672 268 328